[Haskell-cafe] Is Haskell a 5GL?

Gene A yumagene at gmail.com
Fri Sep 29 18:47:32 EDT 2006

Nicolas Frisby said:
The fact of the matter is it's a rare case when a programmer's lack of
mathematical background threatens lives. If my GUI crashes, I'm angry
but not injured. Programmers make a living without the math background
because the vast majority of employers don't seek it--their products
simply don't need it.

Note that I said "rare case"; I think there are plenty of safety
critical programs out there. Consider the shuttle, deep-sea equipment,
military or medical equipment, etc. Now if the programmer you're
worried about is on one of these projects, I most certainly share your

All those angry office workers with those crashing GUI's cost hundreds
of millions of dollars every year... arguably some billions perhaps..
And besides deep space probes and aircraft, there are many machines
out in industrial plants that have some pretty dangerous processes and
such running on computer instructions... right to a dryer that maybe
doesn't shut off the heating element when it should due to a glitch in
a program... and burns up.
  Now as to the need for EVERY programmer to know discreet mathematics
and know how to run a proof through a theorem prover, and understand
fully all the nuances of lambda calculus, and pi calculus, and all
those other calculuses and such.. well, I guess that is why I am happy
to be using tools like Haskell, or the ML family of languages, because
at least the tool is built by folks the like of  Wadler, Peyton
Jones, and many other out and out academics and highly skilled and
brilliant mathematicians.  That means that I benefit from the type
checking {and inference} that make my programs more likely to be
correct on the first go.  I have found that to be the case so far.
   I was able to build an equation solver in three variable and
basically unlimited number of terms in about 6 hours, that would have
taken probably weeks to complete in any language other than Haskell or
one of the other functionals that support higher order functions, and
the mapping and folding functions, and list comprehensions etc.
    I am just a happy camper that I have the ability to use such fine
tools, and not have to be lost in the catacombs of mediocrity: ie.
Java, C++, C, and C#.

good programming,

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